With the recent launch of Android 5.0 (Lollipop) we have seen updated APK’s leaked across the ecosystem. In particular the new Gmail 5.0 looks to be a sweet upgrade with a much improved UI which maximizes Material Design principles and integrates other email clients like Yahoo and Outlook. In short providing a one-stop shop for your emailing needs. However, Gmail may very well be nearing the end of its lifespan. As we are just getting a first glimpse of the new and improved Google email client, the Google powers-that-be may be seeing Gmail as a thing of the past.
Now before we delve into the details it needs to be stated that this is very much at the rumor stage. Nothing has been remotely confirmed yet and as such should not be taken with a pinch of salt but instead a side helping. That said, there is a very strong possibility that Google are preparing to launch a much more intuitive and intelligent email client in the near future. The project which is currently going by the codename ‘Bigtop’ is quite possibly a replacement for Gmail. At the very least it will be released as a separate mail client which takes on a more business edge then Gmail. In short Bigtop is a task orientated email client and is designed to maximise the abilities of cross-app information. If you are feeling a little confused than hold on. The way Bigtop is expected to work is by defining your incoming mail in terms of its tasks…or its relevance…or its purpose. Bigtop does not employ the tab system we currently see in Gmail (Primary, Social and Promotions), but instead collects information from incoming mail and prioritizes and categorizes it accordingly. If there is an actionable event attached to an email (something you have to do) then it will categorize as such. From the image below you can see the mail client offers a much increased list of categories for which an email can be attributed to.
You can also see from the image that this won’t simply be an email client but will also incorporate Hangouts (via its own menu on the right). Similar to Mailbox (the Dropbox client), additional actions will be available to further help categorize emails. These will include the ability to snooze, return at a specific time, pin or effectively archive emails under the banner of ‘done’. The key with this client is the content of the email. If it is important than it will be marked as so, if it is not then it will be archived or dealt with at a later time.
To add to the concept of grouping there will also be the availability to cluster emails together. If for instance, you receive multiple emails regarding the same specific issue (regardless of source or sender) then they could be effectively and easily grouped together. From here they can be dealt with as one email, with the action applying to all. For instance, once done they could all be deleted as one at once. In terms of its compatibility it seems (like the new Gmail), Bigtop will be able to incorporate all your existing clients together. This will further bring together (while also sieving) your emails (form multiple source clients) into the same actionable category. A last prime example of Bigtop’s ability and actionable nature is with attachments. It is being suggested that Bigtop will allow users to open or view attachments without even opening the original email. This again highlights that the client will adopt the purpose of the email above and beyond all other elements.
Here is the real interesting bit. Firstly the image clearly highlight that Google branding is non-existent. In short this is brand-free. In addition the rumors suggest that this client will be compatible with Web, Android and iOS. It is possible that the lack of branding could be just due to the client being in a ‘testing state’ although the cross-platform approach highly supports that Google will be offering this as a brand-free client. Further confirmation of the brand-free idea is the lack of our familiar bell notification icon. If you again take a look at the image above gone is the Google bell icon which is replaced by a much newer (or Google neutral) circle notification icon.
Now it would be wise to remember that most of this is speculation and this could all end up factored into a future release of Gmail. That said when you couple the new colour scheme along with the obvious lack of Google branding. Then also add-in the total redesign of the client, it is not too far fetched to assume this is a standalone product. Bigtop will most likely exist as a self-contained all-in-one email client. Based on this the more relevant question which needs to be digested is whether this will replace the lovable Gmail. As this is expected to be a brand-free cross-platform client, Google may keep Gmail as the ‘Google email’ while touting this as the email client to use whether you are a Google user or not. What is clear is the power, capabilities and the underlying intelligence of Bigtop are what will be its USP. The name alone highlights that’s the point of Bigtop is to reduce the ever-increasing number of emails we all receive down to a much more refined, manageable and actionable number. For now, digestion of the information is key. Google do seem to be not working on a new email client but a new email concept.